Unravelling of the American Dream | Pakistan Today

Unravelling of the American Dream

  • Trump seems to be unravelling

Statistics of the Covid-19 pandemic are changing every minute and hotspots shifting, raising alarm the world over. However, after initial shock and awe at the outbreak of this novel virus that pushed about a third of the world’s population into lockdown (and self-isolation), impatience has begun to set in.

As cases of Coronavirus and the number of deaths on its account mount globally, most rapidly in the USA, US President Donald Trump seems to be losing all control of the situation. The economy-obsessed President is very keen on securing another term in the Oval office, and his own private race drives him to desperate measures such as pushing untested and unproven drugs to beat this ‘monster’ and kill the ‘hidden enemy’– in his words. Even if experts and scientists warn of dire consequences, Trump’s rationale is: “What do you have to lose, you could lose your life.” As always, this rationale is putting people’s life’s at risk.

The US President had expressed his wish to see churches filled with people on Easter, ignoring the fact that there is a surge of body bags in the USA, particularly in New York where temporary morgues and freezer-containers are filling to capacity and officials are considering temporary mass graves.

Trump’s impatience comes through strongly from his daily briefings conducted at the White House along with members of his Covid-19 Task force. He incessantly brags about the size of the US economy, that is crumbling now to unprecedented levels. Just the other day he talked of making a comeback with a “big bang”!

Ending on a reassuring note, the 94-year old monarch said: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

The fact is that the big bang of Covid-19 has unraveled the American dream, and hope survives only because of saner elements in the administration or Governors who took timely control.

Coronavirus death toll in the USA has risen from one in 20 deaths reported worldwide a fortnight ago to one in six. Trump can see it happening but would rather remain in denial. He refuses to see beyond the glazed walls of his Trump Tower. He is increasingly on the defensive, if not downright combative and disrespectful, towards journalists. He wants to keep drumming up false hope and singing his own praise when faced with pointed questions about gaps in effectively fighting the deadly virus. He insists on what a “great” “miraculous” and “amazing job” members of his team are doing.

What goes to President Trump’s credit is that he has successfully exhausted all superlatives in self-praise! His attitude epitomizes the maxim, “Nero fiddles while Rome burns.” He refuses to accept that any criticism is valid and believes he deserves kudos and praise for his performance instead of “nasty” criticism or comments. In his typical abrasive and pompous style Trump continues to blow his own trumpet at the White House daily briefings.

It is appalling to see the President of the United States of America lash out at the World Health Organisation, China and all others that he can attack to try and keep the virus “foreign”. He has ended up politicizing Covid-19 to the extent that even the WHO chief was forced to hit back, asking Trump to “quarantine politicizing Covid-19”. Trump blamed the WHO for being China-centric and issuing “bad advice” following the outbreak of this virus. This brash deflection of responsibility may very well be the new normal and may not be limited only to the POTUS.

In sharp contrast to this new normal, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth was most inspiring in her rare and moving address to her nation and the Commonwealth countries. Her words merit special attention as the world passes through this difficult phase. In her message that had a universal resonance, she underscored “the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling.” The Queen, who has witnessed many a turbulent time during her long reign, beautifully summed it up saying: “And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation.”

In an obvious reference to the lockdowns and social distancing she talked of “a painful sense of separation from their loved ones” that many were feeling but emphasized that “it is the right thing to do.”

Interestingly the Queen did not even once use the word Coronavirus or Covid-19 in her address as all heads of state and governments have done. Instead she referred to it in broader terms as ‘disease’.

Ending on a reassuring note, the 94-year old monarch said: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

This is a defining moment in our lives and choices we make now will shape our future and where we go from here. In these uncertain and challenging times, I draw strength from verses of Surah Ad-Duha (The Bright Morning Hours) and Surah Ash-Sharh (the Opening of the Heart), the 93rd and 94th Surahs of the Holy Quran. These speak to the believers who are beginning to despair.

Consider the bright morning hours, and the night when it grows dark.

Thy Sustainer has not forsaken thee, nor does He scorn thee: for, indeed, the life to come will be better for thee than this earlier part of thy life!” (Translation of verses from Surah Ad-Duha.)

…And behold, with every hardship comes ease: verily, with every hardship comes ease! Hence, when thou art freed from distress, remain steadfast, and unto thy Sustainer turn with love.” These verses from Surah Ash-Sharh are equally instructive and rekindle the light of hope in this dark hour. A source of solace that we all so need.